Are you a Stay-At-Home-Parent while you are in between jobs? Do you pride yourself on being a great parent but not sure why your days are so crazy now that you’re at home all day? If you want less resistance from your toddler for what needs to get done during the day, you need a plan! I have one that is easy to implement to get your kiddo used to a routine while you create one that is perfect for you both!
We have read time and time again about how routines are really good for young children. If they know how their day goes, it’s expected. Expected equals familiar, comfortable, safe. Kids just…go with the flow. This also makes for a much easier day for you. You don’t stress over when you might be able to get a little work done because you have it scheduled! Adversely, when you just kind of hang out all day with a few meals and sleep times thrown in, don’t be surprised when your toddler fights your sudden interest to teach them the alphabet and eliminate screen time. That is not familiar to them. Therefore, that is not safe to them.
So, how do you all of a sudden implement a routine? Well, believe it or not, you already kind of have one but, chances are, you don’t have important personal, work, or chore time incorporated into it:
- You know when your kid wakes, naps, and goes to bed. Start there. Take notes.
- You know that meals will happen and if you prefer to bath in the morning or night. That’s already a lot of time for your schedule!
- Now, you just to need to really look at what needs to get done each day or each week and figure out the best times to get that done surrounding the pre-established sleeping and eating patterns.
- Make sure you include quality time with the kiddo and you’re set to start implementing a personalized schedule!
I’m going to share an easy schedule anyway just to get you started. Most toddlers adapt within a week if you do it cold turkey. You’ll get resistance, but since you’re probably use to that, if you patiently and kindly stick with it, they’ll ease up a bit. They will also get used to it much quicker than if you let them revert back to old non-schedules. But, first, let me tell you how my days went before I set this schedule in motion for my own Tidy Toddler.
You’re getting the picture, right? I used to relentlessly set my alarm for 630am just damn determined to wake up with it, so that I could be up at least 30 minutes before my tot. I would make the coffee I never set up the night before. I could consume all of my coffee without any little toddler legs knocking it over
on the living room floor where we sat at our family breakfast, thus avoiding a miniature meltdown on my part. But it never happened. And this late start was due to my disorganized yesterday, so I was up late thinking about how to get it right today. Never seemed to happen.
730-8: Finally wake up to Tidy Toddler’s conversation with her giraffe
What also doesn’t happen is a washed face, a made up bed, or a washing machine or dishwasher loaded or emptied. Instead, we scampered downstairs where I would finally get coffee going and she’d take her position on the couch for Pooh to run in the background til naptime. Don’t get me wrong, I was showing her house responsibilities in the morning too…just not everyday. She lets the dogs out, fills up their food bowls, turns on the water for our orange tree, and sets out placemats for breakfast (whenever that would happen). Teaching your kids to help out around the house inevitably helps you out. So, amp up your patience and just show them how to do things. This is the age where they want to be self-sufficient and useful!
11: Lunch time
12-3: Nap time or fighting to begin nap time
3-6: I have no idea
6-7: Dinner time
7-8: Bath time & quiet time
8-12: I have no idea
All of these pieces of time that have just been lost in the abyss of parenthood are the exact scenarios no parent wants! We want designated learning times because we want a smart kid! We want adventures around the house so our little learners can experience things! We want arts and crafts that don’t make our OCD ping! Okay, that one is probably more for me. I’m sure you laugh and learn, but you probably also bicker everyday…power struggled every day. This is what made me feel like a failure and then made me realize why the parent needs to plan the day and not the toddler:
Toddlers don’t know what they want.
They rely on us, as parents, to teach them how they should conduct their days. A toddler “thinks” in terms of emotions. They either like something or they don’t and, if you have an exactly-2-year-old toddler, then they really can’t tell you want they want. Which was apparent every single day when Tidy Toddler would call out, “Mickeyyyy. Pooooh. Mickeyyyy. Pooooh. Noooo. Juuuuice.”
Then, every few days or so when I would get the urge to be more regimented with our days, she wouldn’t have it. She wouldn’t help me pick up toys despite my efforts to help her to teach her that that was part of the responsibility of playing with toys! She had her temper tantrums when I wanted to get away from the TV temptation and go to her room for educational play time. Everything was a battle. But, dangit, I was the parent! But I knew her brain just needed consistent direction.
And, to be honest, so did mine. I had no direction for my day and, therefore, was not so awesome at directing my child. I casually did chores. I ran errands late sometimes and had to deal with a crabby kiddo. I crafted with zero time frames and no business hours, which is really important. She’s too young to help with every craft, so I know she felt left out. She couldn’t always cook, so she got into stuff while I wasn’t looking. My day just wasn’t all that fair to her.
I needed a plan that would provide me time, her time, and us time, and I’m guessing you do too. Which brings me to this starter SAHP schedule. I put this into action and, within a week, my Tidy Toddler was used to it and didn’t fight every single direction I was pointing her in. Not perfect…but a great start. So, here it is! Let my success be your guide!
Insights about this schedule…and you may need to tweak…
→ Minimal effort “work” is, basically, distracted play time with your child
We can’t all fit in our job hunting, site building, or social interaction into a few hours. If you have a significant other vying for your time, it’s even harder.
Do things on your computer or phone, but do it in your child’s play area and set the expectation for yourself that you’ll have to play a bit too.
→ All the tot times for learning, being creative, or cooking are really important! Find time for them no matter what your day looks like!
→ After nap time is such a good time to run errands because the kiddo is rested
If you don’t have any errands to do, then have play time with zero computers or phones around. This doesn’t have to be 3 hours of Special Play Time!
Go to a park, have a backyard picnic, or just walk around a mall, so you can enjoy quality time.
→ Prepping for tomorrow helps your sanity too, because you won’t have as much to do the next morning
You may be tired from unexpected, late-night wakings. I say, “If you have the energy to do it, do it now.”
- Prep the coffee maker
- Load the diaper bag
- If your washing machine has bells and whistles, load that and delay the start until 6am
- If your washing machine just has a door and buttons, load it all to press start when you wake up!
- Have a burst of energy? Food prep frozen meals, like pancakes, french toast, or slow cooker meals!
→ Optimally, bedtime is 1030, for me. But, sometimes, that doesn’t happen. That’s the glory of free play the next morning where you can kind of relax while you wake up!
→ Need tweaks?
Gym folks: That free play in the morning is a great time to get to the gym and get home in time for lunch!
Parents of non-nappers: Find a play group, include more activities for your day, or use a timer to establish work-with-play time so your kiddo knows when you can be interrupted.
Parents with kids on different nap schedules: Regardless if naps overlap each other, this is the best time for one-on-one quality time with each kiddo!
What other things do you like to incorporate into your day? How many of you are still working out the kinks in your schedule? Please share in the comments below!